Our Team




Jeff Ruder

Jeff Ruder is the founder and principal of Ruder Law. Since 2006, Jeff has focused his practice on advocating for the rights of disabled children in public schools. Jeff is also frequent speaker to professional and parent groups regarding the rights of students with disabilities.

Jeff also serves as an Allegheny County Solicitor, handling matters involving child abuse and neglect. In addition, Jeff works as special counsel for the Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations where he represents victims of housing discrimination. Jeff also serves as special prosecutor for Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board.  Previously, Jeff worked as a guardian ad litem for Legal Aid for Children.

Jeff is a 1993 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and a 1996 graduate of the Dickinson School of Law.




Kristen Weidus

Kristen Weidus is a senior associate attorney at Ruder Law. Prior to joining the firm, she was an associate at Tremba, Kinney, Greiner & Kerr, LLC, and served as co-counsel in the G.L. v. Ligonier Valley School District case, No. 14-1387 (3d Cir. 2015).

Kristen graduated magna cum laude from the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law in Washington, DC in 2012. She worked as a law student attorney in the Took Crowell Institute for At-Risk Youth, representing students with disabilities enrolled in the DC Public Schools. Kristen also served as President of the Women’s Law Society, Articles Editor for the Law Review, and President and Founder of the UDC-DCSL Disability Rights and Advocacy Society.

Kristen graduated cum laude from Hiram College in 2009. Beginning in 2000, she worked for the HELP Foundation Summer Program, an extended school year program that serves children with disabilities in Northeast Ohio.




John Valantassis

John Valantassis is an associate attorney at Ruder Law. Prior to joining Ruder Law, John worked as the Director of Child Advocacy at The Arc of Philadelphia, where he advocated on behalf of children with disabilities in the Philadelphia region. John also worked after law school as of counsel to the Law Offices of David J. Berney and served as a Conwell Community Corp Service Fellow for the Education Law Center in Philadelphia.

John earned his J.D. from Temple University Beasley School of Law in 2012 where he graduated magna cum laude and served as a Research Editor of the Temple Law Review. John graduated from Haverford College in 2009.




Brandi K. Suter

Brandi K. Suter is an associate attorney at Ruder Law. Prior to joining Ruder Law, Brandi worked at Friday & Cox, LLC as a staff attorney on civil litigation and social security disability cases.

Brandi earned her Law Degree through Duquesne University in 2015. Prior to law school, Brandi received her Masters in Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh in 2010.  While in law school, Brandi worked as a Behavioral Specialist Consultant and Mobile Therapist for children with behavioral difficulties and developmental delays.




Alicia Simpson

Alicia Simpson is an associate attorney at Ruder Law.  Prior to joining Ruder Law, Alicia worked as an associate attorney at Friday & Cox, LLC where she specialized in personal injury, workers’ compensation and social security disability.

Alicia, a Pittsburgh native, earned her J.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 2013 where she served as Vice-President of the Student Bar Association and was a finalist in the Murray S. Love Trial Competition.  She worked as a law student attorney at the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office and at Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Services, Inc, an organization that provides free legal services to low income citizens in Washington, Green, Fayette and Somerset Counties.

Alicia also attended the University of Pittsburgh for her undergraduate degree, graduating summa cum laude and earning a B.A. in English Literature, History, and Political Science.




Toni Haraldsen

Toni Haraldsen is an associate attorney at Ruder Law. After growing up in a military family, she received her undergraduate degree in Secondary Social Studies Education from the Indiana University School of Education. During law school at the University of Minnesota, she focused on education law and policy.  She was a senior law clerk for the School Law Center, LLC in St. Paul, Minnesota, student director of the law school’s Special Education Law Clinic, and intern with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s New Orleans office.

Prior to joining Ruder Law, Toni was a Staff Attorney in the Staff Attorney’s Office of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, specializing in federal appellate jurisdiction.